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The Who – Live 1971(no label)

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Live 1971 (no label)

Disc 1:  Hara Arena, Dayton, OH – August 13th, 1971:  Love Ain’t For Keeping, Pure And Easy, My Wife, I Can’t Explain, Substitute, Bargain, Behind Blue Eyes, Won’t Get Fooled Again, I Don’t Know Myself, Baby Don’t You Do It, Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me, My Generation, Magic Bus

Disc 2:  Civic Center, San Francisco, CA – December 13th, 1971:  Substitute, Summertime Blues, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, Bargain, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me, My Generation, Naked Eye, Going Down, Magic Bus

Disc one of Live 1971 features an audience source from Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio in August of 1971 where The Who were still trying out much of the new material from the abandoned Lifehouse project. Many of the songs were featured on the Who’s Next LP that was released right around this time.

The recording can be considered very good and all the instruments can easily be made out. There is a little bit of echo from the venue surrounding the tape but this can sometimes fatten up an audience recording by giving it a slight bit more depth. There are cuts between some of the tracks but much of the colorful between song banter is still present.

“Love Ain’t For Keeping” and “Pure And Easy” are songs that wouldn’t have much longevity in the live set but both are exciting to hear in a live setting. Keith Moon does the introduction for “I Can’t Explain” which was always appropriately heavier than its studio counterpart. They almost lose the timing at the beginning of “Bargain” caused by Moon’s late entry but return with great versions of “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” which contains a brief drop in volume about half way through.

Pete praises the fact that “Baby, Don’t You Do It” is “turning out to be one of the best live numbers we do” and is the first track that the band seems to really stretch out and improvise on. “Pinball Wizard” and “See Me, Feel Me” are unfortunately all that’s featured from Tommy.  Townshend launches right into “Magic Bus” at the conclusion of “My Generation” and the track unfortunately fades about five minutes in, cutting off any encore. A set list from this show confirms “Naked Eye” was played as the encore but it is unclear if it was recorded or not.

Disc two features a soundboard recording from the San Francisco Civic Center on December 13, 1971. This is the second night in this venue and Pete confirms this by addressing “anyone who was here last night”. For a soundboard, the recording is thin and the tape is noisy with hiss and background hum most noticeably between songs and my guess is that this comes from a high generation copy. Drums and vocals are higher in the mix with the guitar and bass more distant.

Roger mentions that “I Can’t Explain” was played before “Substitute” but this track is missing from the recording. “Summertime Blues” suffers from a bit of intermittent tape deterioration but settles down before the end of the song. Daltrey introduces John Entwistle “known affectionately by the band as The Ox” and the recording cuts into the beginning of “My Wife” missing the first few seconds.

Before “Baba O’Riley” Roger explains they will be playing to a taped keyboard track that was played by Pete and says “it’s like having two Pete’s” only to hear Keith Moon in the distance shouting “one’s enough”. “Bargain” from this show has been previously issued as part of the official Who’s Missing compilation and later as part of the 30 Years Of Maximum R & B box set.

This show was nearing the end of the tour and “Bargain” has a few rough spots for Daltrey. The pitch begins to waver slightly in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” caused by inconsistent tape speed and Daltrey’s scream overloads the tape. A cut leads into the very beginning of “Pinball Wizard” possibly missing “Baby Don’t You Do It”, “Overture”, “Amazing Journey”, and “Sparks” according to some set lists from this show.

There is also a small cut in “See Me, Feel Me” just before the “Listening to you” section. Pete sounds like he is toying with a riff from Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes” during the jam in “My Generation” and is brief but interesting. “Naked Eye” sounds inspired while “Going Down” is a very loose attempt and from what I’ve read wasn’t rehearsed. A portion of this show, “I Can’t Explain”, “Substitute”, “My Wife”, “Behind Blue Eyes”, “Bargain”, and “Baby Don’t You Do It”, can be found on View From A Backstage Pass available only to subscribers of www.thewho.com

1971 is one of my favorite eras for The Who and one wonders how they could ever top a masterpiece like Tommy, but in my opinion, they did it with Who’s Next. Live 1971 is an excellent no-label release that gathers two performances from this time period in one convenient package and is definitely worthwhile for The Who collector. The audience recording from Dayton is the centerpiece for me in this set but the San Francisco soundboard, although has its issues, is also nice to have.

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The Who - Live 1971(no label), 2.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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